Bush's Tactics Cost Him; Avoiding Sharpton; "Ultra-Conservative" McCain
1) MSNBC's analysis of the Michigan vote: Bush lost because of his South Carolina "tactics," but there's still time for him to move from "right wing conservative" to "compassionate conservative." McCain must connect with the "far right" in the party.
2) Howard Fineman: High number of non-Republican voters shows "Democrats and independents...are looking for somebody who can take on the Democratic Party." But George Stephanopoulos asserted that the numbers proved "mischief-making" by Democrats.
3) In stories on the Democratic debate featuring Al Sharpton, CBS skipped over his role while NBC only called him "controversial." Yet NBC's Tim Russert maintained that Bush won't be able to "shake off Bob Jones University and the anti-Catholic bigotry."
4) Gore challenged from the right at the Apollo Theater debate. It may have featured Al Sharpton, but reporters for Time and CNN pressed Gore on his hypocrisy in sending his kid to private school while opposing vouchers to allow poor parents to do the same.
5) After John McCain delivered his concession speech Saturday night CNN stressed its tough tone, but MSNBC's panel focused on how he read it, how good his wife looked and how by picking Bush Republicans "screamed 'we want to stay on the far right.'"
7) CBS's Bob Schieffer took on Bush for being so upset at being compared to Clinton by McCain. "How ironic," he lamented, that "invoking the name of a President who has presided over one of America's great economic booms....becomes a political insult."
>>> Newsweek on Bush: "He had been
forced to run far to the right -- and deep in mud." Now online: The
February 22 MagazineWatch about the February 28 editions of the three news
weeklies. The items detailed in the analysis compiled by the MRC's Tim
The lessons relayed in prime time Tuesday night by MSNBC's analysts and anchor: George W. Bush lost in Michigan because of the "tactics" he employed in South Carolina, but there's still time for him to recover by moving from a "right wing conservative" back to a "compassionate conservative." McCain's challenge is to connect with the "far right" in the party.
-- At about 8:45pm ET Newsweek's Howard Fineman announced on MSNBC: "The voters in Michigan decided to stick with John McCain, in part, I think because of a backlash against the Bush tactics in South Carolina. George Bush had no choice but to win in South Carolina, evidently by whatever means necessary. Enough information about how he won there got out in Michigan to hurt him."
If true, no doubt thanks to harping by the media. But were non-Republicans who so overwhelmingly cast their ballots for McCain really motivated by wanting to punish Bush and not by a desire to promote McCain? Bush's tactics didn't upset Republicans as exit polls showed Bush captured 65 percent of the Republican vote compared to just 28 percent won by McCain.
-- About a half hour later, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth
noticed, NBC's Tim Russert ran through all that Bush did in South Carolina
which supposedly hurt him in Michigan:
-- A few minutes earlier, at 9:07pm ET, anchor Brian Williams had turned to analyst Laura Ingraham and demanded: "What do you do to convince, if you are John McCain, to convince the far right 'no, really, you have to listen to my point of electability.'?"
Funny, I don't recall after the New Hampshire primary MSNBC analysts reciting Al Gore's liberal positions to show how they'll hurt him in some places, nor wondering what Gore must do to "convince the far left" to support him over Bradley.
(At midnight ET Tuesday night MSNBC delivered another in-kind contribution to the McCain effort: Another showing of the Headliners & Legends program profiling McCain's life. MSNBC played the same show the night McCain won in New Hampshire.)
Contrasting interpretations of the exit poll finding that only 47 percent of voters in the Michigan Republican primary were actually Republicans with the rest either independents or Democrats. On MSNBC Newsweek's Howard Fineman suggested that showed "Democrats and independents...are looking for somebody who can take on the Democratic Party," a vehicle to end the Clinton years. But on ABC's Nightline, George Stephanopoulos asserted that the numbers proved "mischief-making" by Democrats.
-- Fineman on MSNBC at about 8:30pm ET: "I think this is about searching for the antidote to Bill Clinton. And those Democrats and independents who are voting are looking for somebody who can take on the Democratic Party. I don't agree with those who say that Democrats and independents who are voting in this race are doing so only to mess up the George W. Bush campaign. They're looking for a vehicle and they see John McCain as a vehicle and the more George Bush says I won the Republicans, but didn't win these other people, the more he undercuts his argument that he is the guy who can take on Al Gore. This is a referendum on who is the vehicle to take on Al Gore and the Clinton years."
-- Stephanopoulos on Nightline: "Never before have you seen so many Democrats, I think, in the last ten years vote in a Republican primary. Even more interesting to me, seven percent of the electorate were liberal Democrats, six percent were African Americans. These are not voters who are going to vote for the Republican nominee in November. This was definitely a mischief-making vote in Michigan and it's going to ensure that there's mischief throughout the Republican nominating process."
Tuesday morning CBS and NBC ran stories recounting how Al Gore and Bill Bradley faced a question about racial profiling at their debate the night before, but CBS's The Early Show failed to mention who posed the question and NBC's Today referred only to the "controversial Reverend Al Sharpton." While Today failed to condemn the close alliance between the Democratic candidates and Sharpton, nor outline his race-baiting history, Tim Russert stressed how George Bush won't be able to "shake off Bob Jones University and the anti-Catholic bigotry."
For more details on Sharpton's appearance and the
debate shown by CNN, including how moderator Bernard Shaw credited him for
having "played an instrumental role in bringing about this
dialogue," and a video clip in RealPlayer format of Sharpton being
introduced, go to:
-- On CBS's The Early Show on February 22 reporter
John Roberts skipped over Sharpton, observed MRC analyst Brian Boyd. Roberts
relayed: "It was quite a spectacle last night at the Apollo Theater in
Harlem. From the word 'go,' the gloves were off with the very first question
on what the candidates would do to end the practice of racial profiling and
curb police brutality."
-- Over on NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noted, reporter Claire Shipman mentioned Sharpton but did not rebuke participants for featuring him: "The gloves were off at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem as Al Gore and Bill Bradley squared off in an angry debate on racial issues. The first question from the often controversial Reverend Al Sharpton: What the candidates would do about racial profiling. Bradley immediately said Gore should have pushed President Clinton to outlaw the practice...."
Later, co-host Katie Couric asked Tim Russert about
Bush's knowledge of anti-McCain phone calls being placed which featured Pat
Robertson's voice: "So his claim that he knew nothing about this you
think is not plausible?"
Of course, Bob Jones University only remains "visible within the country" to the extent the media decide to publicize it.
In an unusual event, two reporters pressed Al Gore from the right on his hypocrisy for sending his kids to private schools while he opposes vouchers to allow poorer parents to do the same. The two questions came in the midst of Monday's joint Time/CNN production of the Gore-Bradley debate at the Apollo Theater in Harlem which featured race-baiter Al Sharpton posing the first question, the one about racial profiling by police cited in item #3 above.
In between questions from the audience about reparations and ending the death penalty, Tamala Edwards and Karen Tumulty of Time and Jeff Greenfield of CNN were able to pose two questions each.
Edwards told Gore at the February 21 event:
A while later Jeff Greenfield followed up, zooming in on
the influence of teacher unions:
Not the kind of questions Gore, or Bradley for that matter, faced at earlier Democratic debates.
Saturday night after John McCain delivered his combative concession speech CNN's team remarked on its toughness, but MSNBC's panel instead focused on style and image. One MSNBC analyst raised how he stumbled as he read the address, another panelist countered that "the look of him with his wife there is going to overcome any...notice of the fact he read his script" and a third analyst jumped on how McCain's loss showed the Republican Party is "not ready for a moderate" as they supposedly "screamed 'we want to stay on the far right.'"
In his comments McCain declared: "I am a uniter, not a divider. I don't just say it, I live it. I'm a real reformer. I'm a real reformer. I don't just say it, I live it. And I'm a fighter for this country. And I don't just say it, I live it. As this campaign moves forward, a clear choice will be offered: a choice between my optimistic and welcoming conservatism and the negative message of fear, between Ronald Reagan's vision of exclusion and the defeatist tactics of exclusion so cherished by those who would shut the doors to our party and surrender America's future to Speaker Gephardt and President Al Gore, a choice between a record of reform and an empty slogan of reform, a choice between -- a choice between experience and pretense."
Afterward, CNN's Judy Woodruff decided: "Well, if anybody thought that John McCain was going to go out of South Carolina with his tail between his legs, he has just fired a cannon to the states of Michigan and Arizona, and the rest of the country. This is some of the toughest language we have heard from John McCain: 'I want the presidency in the best way, not the worst way. I'll never dishonor the nation I love and myself by letting ambition overcome principle.' Jeff, this is very tough talk."
Jeff Greenfield agreed: "You know, I'm a little stunned, because it is some of the toughest language that a defeated candidate has used. Now, we all remember Bob Dole in 1988 snapping at Governor Bush's father 'to stop lying about my record.' He certainly didn't go that far, but the implicit message of this concession speech is, George Bush won dirty."
But MSNBC viewers at the same time didn't hear these kinds of assessments. Instead, they heard goofy comments about style, plus a blast at Republicans for being "far right."
At 8:17pm ET anchor Brian Williams turned to GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who offered: "I'm the only individual up here who's going to make this comment, but here's a guy who is one of the most articulate individuals in politics today and he read his speech -- and in fact he stumbled over it. I know you're all going to talk about the words, about the fighting and America and all of that, but people watching, whether they see it tonight live, or tomorrow or Monday repeated, they'll notice that he read it, they'll notice that he stumbled over it. John McCain wins when he speaks from the heart. When he reads a text he fails. And if you're talking about style, which we know matters, this was not a successful speech."
Williams then moved along: "Paul Begala, valid
Finishing out the three man panel, CNBC host and former Tip O'Neill aide Chris Matthew argued: "He mentioned as I said I thought he might do tomorrow, but he hasn't waited for Tim Russert, he said he's running against 'the defeated tactics of exclusion.' He's accusing, I'm sure Tim will ask him to go further on it, he's accused his opponent of joining an anti-Catholic cause. I have to say something very cosmetic: The look of him with his wife there is going to overcome any looking or notice of the fact he read his script. There's a beautiful person next to him . She loves him. It's a great picture. I think most people seeing that picture in tomorrow morning's paper are going to like what they see."
Not exactly penetrating analysis, but it happened on a network which really isn't quite up to the efforts of CNN and FNC. While those two stayed live until 11pm ET, after just two hours of coverage and before George Bush's victory speech, at 9pm ET MSNBC went to Weekend Magazine, a show made up of repeats of Dateline stories, followed by Special Edition and Time & Again, another clip show. The Time & Again subject: Leonardo DiCaprio. And unlike FNC, which runs news updates on the hour, everybody at MSNBC went home at 9pm so anyone tuning in after 8:58pm ET would not have had a clue a primary even occurred.
John McCain's voting record may not support the charge of Bush backers that he's a liberal, but is he really an "ultra-conservative"? Yes, maintained Time magazine national correspondent Jack White on Inside Washington over the weekend.
White asserted, as transcribed by the MRC's Jessica
I bet that's a preview of what we'll be hearing soon from many in the media. If it looks McCain might actually beat Bush, liberals in the media not enamored of McCain will make sure their readers and viewers are scared about his conservative voting record.
Another installment of utterances from Clueless Bob Schieffer (CBS). Now he doesn't understand why George W. Bush was so upset at being compared to Bill Clinton by John McCain. "In Republican circles anyway, calling someone 'Clinton' turns out to be this year's version of 'your mama wears combat boots,'" Schiefffer bemoaned before pointing out how "ironic" it is to be upset by a comparison to a man who "has presided over one of America's great economic booms."
Ending Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, Schieffer
delivered this commentary:
Another edition of MediaNomics, the bi-weekly report from the MRC's Free Market Project (FMP), is now up on the MRC Web site. Here are summaries of the two pieces written last week by FMP Director Rich Noyes:
-- As Oil Prices Rise, Free Market Ideas Are Left Out in
-- The 1980s, According to Mort:
To read these stories, which were posted February 18, go
Live television always brings out Dan Rather's wacky side and his rhymes, better known as Ratherisms. Here are two of the latest:
-- Rather opening a February 19 special report on South Carolina at 7pm ET: "This is a Campaign 2000 special report. Dan Rather reporting from Charleston, South Carolina. Southern comfort for Bush. The McCain surge going south in South Carolina."
-- Rather opening the February 22 CBS Evening News, at
least the version seen in the ET and CT time zones before the polls closed in
An analogy no one else could possibly have thought of. -- Brent Baker 
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